Davenport In, Williams Pass On U.S. Fed Cup Semis at Russia
by Richard Vach | March 29th, 2008, 9:31 pm

The U.S. is on the verge of reaching the Fed Cup final and capturing the title for the first time since 2000. But Saturday at the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami, Lindsay Davenport revealed the U.S.’s chances have lessened considerably without the participation of either Venus or Serena Williams.

Davenport was jubilant in February when she and Ashley Harkleroad helped lead the U.S. past Germany in the quarterfinals, saying she would do her best to convince Venus and Serena to take up their country’s cause.

On Saturday in a post-match conference in Miami, Davenport said she was unable to convince either Williams sister to play.

“Yeah, I saw Venus in Memphis, and she said that she wasn’t going,” Davenport told reporters. “I tried for about one minute, and she just smiled and she’s like, ‘Nope.’ And I actually haven’t seen Serena until here. It was really brief as she was walking to go play. I said, ‘Hey, are you going?’ And she’s like, ‘Nope,’ with the same smile. I totally respect players’ decisions. I mean, for a lot of ties I didn’t go. It’s not easy to go to Moscow in April.”

It can’t be too hard as long as you want to do it, demonstrates the new mother Davenport who will have her baby in tow in Russia.

No explanation of why the Williams sisters won’t play. Zina Garrison is in her last year as U.S. Fed Cup captain, and the knock on her was that she wasn’t able to get the top players (aka Williams sisters) to play. What makes anyone think that incoming captain Mary Jo Fernandez will have better luck?

It wouldn’t have been an easy task going into Russia on red clay, even with the Williams sisters, but what an opportunity lost for the U.S. The American line-up will now likely be Davenport and Harkleroad again, neither of who thrive on the red clay against top opponents such as Maria Sharapova, Svetlana Kuznetsova and the rest of the deep Russian bench.

This is ‘Exhibit A’ on why the Fed Cup lacks the appeal of a top-level international competition (top players regularly skip out, not just in the U.S.), and why in the U.S. it remains off, way, way off, the sports radar.

When Fernandez takes the helm in 2009, better to take a page out of U.S. Davis Cup captain Patrick McEnroe’s playbook and just work with young players who have the enthusiasm to represent the U.S. and develop a team from scratch. Worked out pretty well with Andy Roddick, James Blake and the Bryans. And stop sending invites to those that could take it or leave it.

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8 Comments for Davenport In, Williams Pass On U.S. Fed Cup Semis at Russia

Richard Vach Says:

Venus Responds:

“I’ve tried to support Fed Cup as much as I could these few years, but sometimes I just get tired. Moscow’s a long way, and I’ve had quite a few long trips already this year.

I’m going to be playing Amelia and Charleston, so I just couldn’t play five weeks in a row. Obviously, my commitment to the tour is very important to me also, so I just can’t do everything.”

jane Says:

Speaking of Davenport, she’s doing a nice job against Ivanovic at the moment.

Von Says:

I wrote the following on anothr thread — didn’t know this one existed.

Don’t know where to write this, but there aren’t any threads dedicated to the women’s game, per se. But, sorry, Ivanovic fans, Davenport put a good beatdown on dear Ana, which had the poor girl frazzled. Glad to see Lindsay doing so well, who in my opinion, is one of the best ball striker/returner/server in the women’s game, added to the fact that she’s American. Considering we don’t have too many women players, we’re thankful that the ones we have are holding up the stars ‘n stripes. Right TD?

My other fave woman, Mauresmo, whose atyle of play, is nearly extinct in the women’s game, was 1 set all. Hope she can get through this and make a big run. She’s a classic.

jane Says:

I am happy for Davenport too – not that I don’t like Ivanovic, but I’ve always liked Lindsay and certainly appreciate her efforts after just having had a child!

That said, I am also glad Serena is presently losing; don’t care for her too much, though I do like Venus.

I see Hantuchova lost another epic battle – poor girl.

Von Says:


“I see Hantuchova lost another epic battle – poor girl.”

Ay, Hantuchova, that poor girl. I really feel for her. If you were to know her life and the psychological battles she had to fight, I can only say, she’s doing well, in spite of it all. But, her letdowns are so painful; to watch, but then how much more painful for her to bear. My daughter’s name, btw, is Danielle, the English version of Daniela. I guess that’s why I like her so much. Poor baby.

jane Says:

MAJOR WHOPPING of Henin by Serena – wow!

Von Says:

Serena was in the zone today, that’s the Serena I remember, and she was a joy to watch. Put on blinders on the attitude, just watch her tennis. Venus, is just a shadow of Serena in the shot department. Let’s go Serena, and keep the stars ‘n stripes flying!

jane Says:

Henin clearly wasn’t in the zone; Serena says she’s been practicing like a “champ” and yesterday it showed. When she’s focused (and one of her problems is she vacillates too much) she’s wicked on the court. So powerful.

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